Dept. of Soul Crushing Traffic / Media Hype
— CNN (@CNN) November 22, 2017
Still not convinced this isn't just the 405 on any given weeknight. https://t.co/F7TulIBlfH
— Joseph Lemon (@joseph_lem) November 22, 2017
Dept. of Projects
Sometimes at night we take out a piece of the temporary road you've been driving on to access the Wilshire/La Brea station. pic.twitter.com/Wb7emMwAaQ
— Purple Line Ext (@PurpleLineExt) November 22, 2017
Dept. of How Hard Is It Really to Provide Real-Time Rail Arrival Data?
Everybody wants to "solve" transportation but I just want truly reliable bus service and rail that comes more than every 20 minutes at night!
— Julia Wick (@sherlyholmes) November 17, 2017
Click above and follow the thread. Julia also points out that inaccurate info about wait times for the next train is one of those small things that deters many people from riding. I will not argue with that hypothesis.
Metro’s real-time data arrival info for Metro Rail relies on data collected from track circuits. As Curbed LA explained it:
Al Martinez, senior IT director for Metro, says the major cause of inaccurate predictions is service disruptions, anything from malfunctioning doors at MacArthur Park to police activity at Hollywood/Highland to a traffic accident in South Pasadena. If a train car is sitting still on a section of track without the embedded location-tracking circuits, it effectively becomes a ghost train. There’s no way to see its exact location. Depending on how drastic the disruption is, Metro will choose whether or not to disable the ETA predictions entirely.
There’s definitely awareness at the agency that this needs to be improved but I don’t have a timeline for that happening.
Art of Transit:
Nice scoop by reporter Laura Nelson. Musk’s firm — called the “Boring Company” — has asked for permits from the city of L.A. to begin digging tunnels for a private project that would run under the path of the 405 between Hawthorne and Westwood. The video above explains the concept.
Yes, this is pie-meets-sky, for sure. And there are few details that have been made public. Has such a system been tested anywhere? Is it safe? How many cars can it carry compared to a freeway? If it’s too popular, wouldn’t there be lines on surface streets for the elevators to the tunnel? Would it be tolled? How much?
I’ve been dismissive of Musk in the past as a master of hype. Then again, new ideas are often mocked and Tesla has cracked an American car market not easy to crack. So maybe there is something to this, although it feels as if this project is trying to make the leap from chalkboard to reality in a ridiculously expedited fashion.
It’s also interesting that Musk seems intent on staying private with his projects. As far as I know, he hasn’t show much interest in partnering with government on any of his transit/tunnel proposals (Metro, FWIW, does have an unsolicited proposal policy where companies can submit such ideas). If anything, Musk has shown an impatience for the time it takes government transpo projects to get studied, designed and built — a good 10 to 20 years, at least, in many cases.
Finally, this: As Laura notes, Metro has its own transit project along the 405 between the Orange Line in the SFV to LAX. I don’t see either of these projects as exclusive. Metro’s project is for trains, Musk’s for cars.
Will the city of L.A. give him the permits? Stay tuned!
L.A. has always been a place where innovators come to build new ideas that can change our lives. Looking forward to exploring how @ElonMusk’s Boring Company could help us build a better future for our city. https://t.co/doolkpsuZw pic.twitter.com/om7nWEmteD
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) November 22, 2017
That’s the tunnel in Hawthorne, btw.
Driverless Cars Won’t Save Us (Citylab)
Richard Florida, an expert on cities and planning, takes Jon Stewart’s advice to say something if you smell something. And what Florida sniffs coming from self-driving car advocates is, well, fairly reminiscent of the fragrance offered along stretches of the Golden Street Freeway in the Central Valley.
Florida’s two big points:
•Whether a human or robot, roads only have room for so many cars — even if the robots can drive them closer together.
•Robot cars will “extend the commuting range of blue-collar workers, service workers, and the poor” who will increasingly find themselves living in the boonies (cheap land) while the wealthy enjoy urban life.
I like the skepticism! I think self-driving cars are a cool idea — I heart my Subaru’s adaptive cruise control. But I don’t see robot cars as fundamentally changing the way we get around, although they could make it more pleasant (and probably more slower). If anything, they could make owning a car even more popular than car ownership already is.
Many urbanists feel otherwise. They see shared robot cars as reducing the need to own a car and, thus, reducing the need for so many traffic lanes, parking lots, etc. I think that’s a naive notion as the companies that want to supply shared cars are going to want to cram as many of them as possible on our roads.
Alternatively, some feasting music courtesy of Mr. Davies and the Kinks…
Categories: Transportation Headlines